On October 27, Pepperdine University’s School of Public Policy assembled a panel of experts to discuss and debate the shortcomings and merits of municipal climate litigation. This event, titled “Municipal Climate Litigation in California: Should the Courts or Policymakers Address Climate-Related Damages and Solutions?” was moderated by Pete Peterson, Dean of the School of Public Policy and featured the Manufacturers’ Accountability Project’s Phil Goldberg, Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, and UC Berkeley Law School Professor Holly Doremus.
The panel discussed the public policy motivations behind the lawsuits, the validity of the legal theories being employed, and how recent court decisions will affect the litigation. They also delved into the personal and global economic and energy security implications raised by the lawsuits, and whether legislative and regulatory bodies are more appropriate venues for addressing these issues.
Goldberg explained that this litigation will not solve climate change, has no foundation in the law, and can actually hinder, not help global and local efforts to address climate change. He also pointed to statements made by the Supreme Court in previous climate change litigation (American Electric Power v. Connecticut), summarizing the Court’s views that climate litigation raises federal, legislative matters that are “not policy decisions that courts tend to make. These are policy decisions that really belong in the legislative and regulatory bodies.”
In addition, in response to questions about funding local climate adaptation programs, Goldberg noted that California has programs to assist local governments with their climate adaptation plans and the federal government has made tens of billions of dollars available to state and local governments to bolster infrastructure resilience, including in the Inflation Reduction Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
Click here to watch the one-hour event or watch below.